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International Executive Vice President

Yvette Trujillo was just 15, when her grandfather started telling her that she “really should get a good Union job with good Union benefits.” He was an ATU Local 1001 member and had worked as a mechanic for the Denver Tramway and its successor, the RTD, for over 30 years. Her uncle worked there as well.

Yvette says she really didn’t understand why getting a Union job was so important, but when it came time for her to start earning a living, she got a job as an RTD operator, and joined Local 1001-Denver, CO.

Shortly after her youngest was born, both her husband and her older daughter became seriously ill. Trujillo became the caretaker and ran into the inevitable work/family time conflicts that occur in situations such as this.

Her employer reacted by imposing discipline on her. But, Trujillo, confident in her excellent work record, asked for leniency, given the situation.

Her boss told her that she’d love to help her out, but that her hands were tied by their Union contract!

That sent Trujillo to the Union to ask how this could be. There this hard- working employee found out that she had been lied to. Local 1001 took on her case and won. Then and there Trujillo made a commitment to herself that she would become active in the ATU.

She became a shop steward in 1998, and was executive board member in 1999.

Her enthusiasm made her a “natural” for the job. Her co-workers encouraged her to run for recording secretary. If she won, it would be her first full-time job in Labor.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about Trujillo taking a paid position. One member actually threatened her with “bodily harm” if she ran.

However, the threat back fired. “Now, I had no choice,” she says, “I had to run!” She was elected recording secretary, and lived to tell about it.

Three years later, when Trujillo ran for local president, she was unopposed. That was the first time that had ever happened in the local’s history.

The new local president knew that the local would have gone on strike over their last contract if they had been better organized. So, immediately after she was elected, she started organizing a group of members who would become politically active, gathering support for transit workers among city and state legislators in Denver.

Another poor contract was offered when contract negotiations began again. Signing that contract would have effectively given the workers a wage decrease.

But Local 1001 was prepared. They went out on strike for a better contract, taking their case to the steps of the state capitol. And they won! In fact, under Trujillo’s leadership, they won the largest wage increase in the local’s history.

International President Warren S. George appointed Trujillo International Representative January 1, 2007, and then in September 2010 the delegates at the 56th International Convention elected her as International Vice President, she has found it “exciting” to be working on a “broader level.”  

Trujillo appreciates what the labor movement, and in particular what the ATU, can do for people. Not surprisingly, today she finds herself telling her children and grandchildren, “You know, you really should get a good Union job with good Union benefits.”